UPMC-Led ISMETT Expands Vaccination Efforts in Sicily

By: Francesca Valagussa

In the second phase of its vaccination campaign, UPMC-managed ISMETT in Palermo, Italy, is now vaccinating transplant recipients, organ donors and individuals on the waiting list to receive an organ transplant. The Region of Sicily chose ISMETT to support this vaccination effort, which began in February with senior citizens over the age of 80.

Angela Zaffuto receives ISMETT’s first COVID-19 vaccine.

A dedicated vaccination area was built outside the transplant and high-specialty hospital. ISMETT’s 15-member vaccination team administers doses six days a week, with the ability to give 180 Pfizer vaccinations per day.

To date, approximately 2,000 seniors and 600 transplant patients have received their vaccinations at ISMETT. An additional 800 patients have scheduled their vaccine through the hospital’s website.

Angela Zaffuto, 80, of Palermo, was the first person to receive the vaccine at ISMETT. “I took this opportunity immediately, and I was looking forward to it. Now, I feel safer,” she said. The oldest vaccine recipient was a 103-year-old woman.

ISMETT, which has provided the region with world-class care for more than two decades, is a public-private partnership between UPMC and the Region of Sicily.

“Our staff have shown an incredible commitment to the region’s vaccination effort, and I want to thank them for their dedication,” said ISMETT’s director, Dr. Angelo Luca. “Elderly people and those who are receiving or donating a lifesaving organ are especially vulnerable to infection, so it is crucial to provide them with protection from COVID-19.”